Mountaineer Runner is a Home-grown Special

Mountaineer racetrack     By Bill Mooney for MNR

     In regards to racehorses, Jasizzle is as home-developed a product as you’ll find. The seven-year-old gelding is co-bred, raised, trained and owned by Tommy R. Mills. He’s the 5-2 second choice in the morning line for Saturday’s $25,100 Welcome Back Dash, the five-furlong, opening night feature at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort.

     In last year’s edition of the Welcome Back, Jasizzle took the lead right out of the gate, shook off a couple of challenges and prevailed wire-to-wire by 3 ¼ lengths. That was a snowy night in March. Saturday promises to be a warm night in April. Not that it matters to Jasizzle. He’ll run anytime, anywhere.

     Jasizzle has made 49 career starts, and he’s picked up a paycheck in every one of them. They have ranged in value from $143 he earned when finishing sixth in his career debut at Keeneland back in 2011; to the $37,500 he picked up when winning a turf allowance sprint at Churchill Downs at age three.

     “He has been a dream for me,” said the 53-year-old Mills, who bases his seven-horse string at the Kentucky Training Center near Lexington. “Jasizzle is just as sound today as when I started with him. He’s something of a fan favorite at Mountaineer, and the horsemen there have a big appreciation of him too, although none are particularly anxious to run against him.”

     There are nine victories on Jasizzle’s career resume (including at least one every year he has campaigned), along with 17 placings. He has accumulated a career bankroll of $388,669. Jasizzle has won on fast tracks, tracks rated good, a muddy track, a pair of synthetic surfaces (at Turfway Park and Presque Isle Downs) and a firm grass surface. He has proven to be a horse for many a course.

     “But he especially seems to like Mountaineer,” Mills said, and past performances lend credence to that belief. Jasizzle has made 14 career starts at the Hancock County track, winning five of them and placing in seven others.

     Four times, Jasizzle has been second in black-type company. He finished in front by a length in the 2013 edition of the Senator Robert R. Byrd Memorial at Mountaineer on the West Virginia Derby undercard, but was disqualified to the runner-up position for sharply veering in on another horse at the break.

     So, that elusive black-type triumph has yet to be added to Jasizzle’s record. But he was second, missing victory by just a neck, in the Grade 3 Aristides Stakes at Churchill at age four. That makes Jasizzle graded-stakes-placed, and he was also the runner-up in the Sophomore Sprint in 2012 at Mountaineer as well as the 2015 edition of the ‘Byrd Memorial.

     His pedigree includes impressive components. Jasizzle’s sire, won the 2006 Belmont Stakes. Jasizzle’s dam, Silky Bay, registered maiden, allowance and a pair of claiming scores from 18 career starts. Those are modest credentials. But Silky Bay lists the Hall of Famers Northern Dancer, Seattle Slew, Secretariat and Buckpasser in her family tree. There’s some royal blood flowing through her veins.

     Mills claimed Silky Bay for $10,000 at Ellis Park in August of 2006. “I initially had a couple of partners in her, but then Silky Bay got injured and I bought them out for $13,000,” Mills said. Twice, Jasizzle has been consigned to auctions. He fetched a $29,000 bid at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale in 2010, but was not sold. And he was put in, then taken out, of the Keeneland January Sale in 2012.

     Sprinting is strictly Jasizzle’s forte – five- to 6 ½-furlong distances. Early in his career, Mills tried stretching him out to 1 1/8 miles on the grass at Keeneland, but after vying for the lead early, Jasizzle finished well off the board.

     Luis M. Quinones has the mount on Jasizzle Saturday. Quinones has won with him four times in the past. “I’ve been aiming for six months for this race,” said Mills. “And after it’s run, I might retire Jasizzle. Maybe make him a lead pony. He’s done everything for me I could ever ask.”

     Mountaineer Notes. Tuesday. April 26, will be “Help a Horse Day” at Mountaineer. Contributions will be solicited for the Communication Alliance to Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses (also known as CANTER USA), which provides Thoroughbred racehorses with opportunities for new careers.